Systems Masterclass Session 12: Principles & Practices of Systems Change Case Studies

1 May 2024 – The issues of poverty, inequality, racial justice, and climate change have never been more pressing or paralyzing. Current approaches to social change, which rely on industrial models of production and power, often do not have their intended positive impacts, and, in fact, may entrench the status quo.

In this session, Cynthia Rayner will draw on two hundred years of history and a treasure trove of stories of committed social change-makers to uncover principles and practices for social change that radically depart from industrial approaches, harnessing connection, context, and power for enduring change.

Drawing on specific case examples, we will dive into ‘systems work’ principles–fostering connection, embracing context, and reconfiguring power. We will then look at the practices that support these principles–cultivating collectives, equipping problem-solvers, promoting platforms, and disrupting policies. We will also discuss comparative case study analysis as an evaluation technique, utilizing the power of stories to evaluate organizational and network progress towards systems change.

Participants developed a better understanding of the following:

  • The difference between simple, complicated and complex problems.
  • The principles and practices of systems work – Practical case studies of systems work.
  • Applying systems work approaches to complex social issues.
  • Using comparative case study analysis to evaluate approaches to systems change.

This session is part of the Masterclass Series on Systems Thinking curated by ECDAN and NORC, accessible here:

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